Ontario to double pace of new cannabis store approvals

Ontario to double pace of new cannabis store approvals

Ontario’s cannabis store regulator will double the number of stores it licenses per month, signalling faster growth on the horizon for Canada’s single largest adult-use marijuana market.

In a late Tuesday announcement, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) said it had issued 164 store licenses to date, with 150 stores open.

“At the government’s direction, the AGCO is now moving to double the pace of store authorizations this fall,” according to the AGCO’s announcement.

“The AGCO will soon contact all affected retail store applicants directly to advise them of any change to the timing of the issuance of their store authorizations.”

Beyond specifying “this fall,” the AGCO announcement did not make clear exactly when the increased pace of licensing will take effect.

AGCO had previously committed to authorizing approximately 20 new stores per month, meaning roughly 40 stores should be licensed each  month under the new directive.

Ontario continues to lag behind other Canadian provinces in rolling out licensed cannabis stores.

With 164 adult-use cannabis store licenses, Ontario’s population of 14.7 million people has roughly 1.1 cannabis store licenses per 100,000 people.

In contrast, the province of Alberta leads the market in terms of cannabis stores per capita, with 517 licenses to date or approximately 11.7 licenses per 100,000 people.

Retail sales figures show those raw store numbers are driving sales of regulated marijuana in Canada.

In June, regulated cannabis sales in Alberta were worth CA$46.7 million, a close second to Ontario’s CA$48.9 million in sales despite Alberta’s much smaller population.

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